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National Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson arrives for an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2017. Gibson died Friday at 84.
Gibson’s baseball career coincided with the height of the civil rights movement.
«I pitched in a period of civil unrest, of black power and clenched fists and burning buildings and assassinations and riots in the street,» Gibson wrote in his memoir, as reported by The New York Times.
«There was a country full of angry black people in those days, and by extension — and by my demeanor on the mound — I was perceived as one of them,» Gibson wrote. «There was some truth to that, but it had little, if anything, to do with the way I worked a batter. I didn’t see a hitter’s color. I saw his stance, his strike zone, his bat speed, his power and his weaknesses.»
Before his major league baseball career, Gibson was the first Black player to shoot hoops for the Creighton University Blue Jays, and he also spent a brief time with the Harlem Globetrotters.
After retiring from baseball, Gibson opened a restaurant in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., and was chairman of the board of a bank catering to Black residents.
As for Gibson’s storied intimidating nature, he didn’t think he was more fearsome than any other pitcher.
«Every pitcher tried to intimidate batters when I played,» Gibson told the Chicago Tribune in 1987. «Maybe I was just a little more successful.»
- Bob Gibson